The Iron Door

by Howard Faxon

Tags: Ma/Fa, Science Fiction,

Desc: Science Fiction Story: A hiker stumbles onto a heavy iron door set into the side of a river cut. After figuring out how to open it he is tested, then enlightened with a technology predating the Egyptian Pharos. From there it gets strange.

I'd been a camper and backpacker for decades. I finally got the chance to tramp the woods in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. It was mountainous and cut by river valleys--quite rough territory. I used a national geodetic survey map along with a GPS to explore all the hidden crests, ridges, valleys and crevices that I could access.

I was working around a narrow water cut with a stream flowing at its foot when I came upon a small overhanging cliff that sheltered one side of the stream bank. It had a gravel bank and led up to a small shelf where I could make my night's shelter. The long decades had slowly built up a supply of water-tossed firewood at the tightest bend of the creek. I had to move it all to one side and stack it to make room for my tarp and bedroll.

Back in the furthest crevice, completely overhung by the rock walls, I discovered a heavy iron door. It had no lock, no keyway, no ward. It was secured by a six-inch-square iron bar covered in tar, as was the door itself and the frame which was dug into the rock surround. With great effort I shouldered out first one side, then the other out of their brackets and cast the bar aside. There seemed to be no way to grasp the door to open it. I eventually spotted a square block in the surface of the door farthest from the hinges. It was made of fired clay. I broke it free and cleared the hole, then managed to fit the end of the locking bar into the hole in the door. With great effort that took the strength of my legs and back to achieve the door slowly creaked open. The door had been carefully fitted to the jamb. It was tapered like a ground glass cork in a bottle and quite thick, perhaps a foot or a bit less.

The hair on the back of my neck rose when I heard a low grunting and snuffling come from the cave within. After a bit I considered on the situation. "Whatever you are, you have been trapped within for far too long. Come out and make your way."

Something passed me by. It was enormous, and stank horribly. It was covered in rank brown fur. When it stood on two legs it well exceeded three times my height at over eighteen feet tall. I sat back in wonder at how a cave bear had existed long enough to cast its shadow on today's world. I wished it well, but first wished that it would bathe. By damn, it was rank!

With the door fully open I dragged the locking bar partially into the doorway. I didn't want anyone locking me in. It didn't appear as if there was any way a mortal man was going to open that thing from the inside without the copious use of explosives. Even then, the concussion would make survival doubtful at best.

I fumbled through my pack for a little mason-jar oil lamp I carried. I liked the fact that the screwed-on lid kept the oil on the inside of the lamp rather than the inside of the pack and it used nice, cheap vegetable or olive cooking oil. After donning my pack once more and lighting my lantern I began exploring the extent and features of the cave. It was quite extensive and appeared to have been hand-worked, driven far back into the stone cliff. The space had many regular columns set in a grid, supporting a complex vaulted ceiling. I followed the wall in and around so as not to become lost. The many columns were so nearly identical that it seemed designed to get an explorer lost. The only reference point that I could find was the wall of the cave.

As I explored I marvelled at the size and uniformity of the construction. As I proceeded I noticed subtle differences in the pattern of the necking making up the capitals of the columns. The bands were of different thicknesses and spacing. I began to make note of the patterns. I discovered that it was a numeric sequence--in base eight! The things were arranged like an abacus. I eventually made my way around the chamber until I found a capital that had nothing but finely chiseled narrow grooves separating many wide bands. It seemed to be the highest numbered column in the sequence. It made sense in that it was quite close to the intersection of two stone walls.

I attempted to walk around it. Instead of finding a continuation of the chamber's floor I found myself in a narrow passageway leading into another, much smaller cave. It held a warm pool of water with a gentle jet feeding it from the center, a small shell-shaped shelf built into the wall occupied by a very dry oil lamp and a pit filled with sand that also held four amphora. From the scent of one they were filled with oil and had their points jammed deeply into the sand to keep them upright. Next to the lamp's shelf was a much longer shelf cut into the wall some three feet deep and two feet off the floor. Just before what I took to be the sleeping shelf was a raised table. It looked inviting. I tasted the water and found it acceptible. I cooked up a small bowl of oat meal above my oil lamp, then ate my dinner. After wiping out my bowl and spoon I washed my face and hands, set up my pallet, set out my lighter and blew out the lamp.

I had no idea what time of the night or day it was when I awoke. I never carried a watch when exploring. I gently reached out to follow the wall until I found the shelf where I had laid my lamp and lighter. I flicked my bic and the darkness was driven back. Rather than use up my own oil supply when a copious amount was provided I pulled up an amphora and balanced it on my knes. then I held the lamp that I had found on the shelf below the lip of the jar, while I gently worked loose the waxed wooden plug holding and protecting the oil within. I managed a thin stream of oil which half-filled the lamp, then drove home the plug once again. I put down the now-filled lamp and set the amphora back into the sand. Then, after soaking a bit of twisted-up paper towel in the oil I lay it partially in the oil reservoir and partly on the burning lip, then ignited it. A sweet smell remeniscent of night-blooming flowers filled the air. I blew out my lamp and waited for it to cool before refilling it and putting it away.

Since I had a warm water supply with a good flow I got out my little bottle of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap and took a bath. Then I washed my socks and underwear. I always kept a spare pair of those necessities. The first pair of shorts and socks got laid out to dry on the sleeping shelf. I got the urge to take a dump. I wasn't about to crap in the corner, so I used a gallon baggie and a paper towel. After drinking a cup of tea I began to examine the room on a much finer scale. I went so far as to go digging around in the amphora storage pit and found nothing of interest. The only unusual item I came up with was a seam running down the middle of the table in front of the sleeping bench. I piled everything of mine on the sleeping shelf then began working on that table. I pushed, pulled, twisted, slid and jumped on that thing to no avail. Then I wondered if the lid would come off of it altogether. When I applied a good pull straight up the top rose smoothly the distance of two handsbreaths. Then the halves separated to show the contents of the table's pedestal.

I found a finely crafted necklace bearing a large flat red gem, a table top rest with a small dish in the top center, a twelve inch fat-waisted crystal spindle with a small ring around the top and a sharp tip on the bottom. There was also a long box filled with round disks and a cord with a "T" handle at one end. I put the necklace over my head to let it ride naturally on my chest.

Seat? Spindle? Disc? Pull-cord? They were gyroscopes! I assembled it from the top-most disc in the box, balanced it with my fingertip and firmly pulled the cord. It started slowly spinning, then accellerated. I sat down, entranced. flashes of light were occuring, then coming in bands. As it stabilized I witnessed a movie--an instructional guide! Within moments I could hear and understand the sound. I was being taught how to create and use a power cell crystal which, from my guessing about the implementation techniques, was fusion based. The last few moments of the video showed how to open the bottom of the base and access the practice crystals within.

I put the disc back into the box then slid open the bottom of the base. I carefully shook out the first crystal into my palm. I used my little ultra-bright LED flashlight to examine it carefully. It was nothing but a white quartz crystal. I closed my eyes and felt for the crystal. I had it. This was cool! It popped erect in my hand. I had to work in layers from the center out, leaving a pinhole through its center. When finished, I loaded it with a dip in the water and sealed up the pinholes. I took a twenty out of my wallet and flattened it on the table, then gently rubbed the base of the crystal to set up the first oscillation. It warmed in my hand and self-illuminated with a bright blue-white glow. I'd done it. I could make one the diameter of a double-A cell and half the length that would supply anything up to 250 volts for well over five years. Amperage? How good were your contacts? One the size of a child's bowling ball would generate ten megawatts per hour for longer than I'd ever be alive, even with a gifted genetic line.

That was one hell of a gift. I wondered what else was in store. I'd heard stories of Atlantis being run by crystals, but the land I was on used to be a shallow sea. How old WAS this place, anyway? Was that door made of steel or something else?

The second movie showed me how to make perfect crystals from common sand or other minerals such as borax, and how to then dope them with various common compounds found near streams and places where man had disturbed the surface, such as road cuts, to create many varieties of feed-stock crystals which other devices would require.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Science Fiction /